On Luck

posted on: June 26, 2012

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of luck. Maybe it’s because I feel so fortunate to be alive which, after all, is the most amazing luck of all. Even as a kid, once I understood the facts of life, I pondered what would have happened if my parents hadn’t had sex that night. I wouldn’t have existed. Maybe another baby would have been born from a different sperm, and I, with the peculiar uniqueness of my genes, wouldn’t have been.

It’s providential to be living in America during this era where the world’s bounty is available in the grocery stores and technology is such that we are freed from the labor of simply surviving to enjoy books, music, movies.

Of course, there’re also the long list of “unlucks” that each of us possess. One of mine is inheriting a propensity for high cholesterol which killed my father as a young man and caused serious problems for almost all of my cousins and brother.

Then there are the crazy misfortunes that happen in life, those unpredictable strokes from out of the blue. A friend who dies at twenty-six from an allergic reaction to medication in a routine surgery. Loved jobs that fold because they are defunded. Ill children. Not that all startling, or shocking events are negative. There’s the luck of finding someone with whom a special click of shared passions and interests exists so you feel you’ve known them forever. We given amazing talents that we sometimes chose to nurture. And plaguing inabilities that we struggle to overcome. As a therapist, I’m keenly aware that it’s how we deal with these accidents that form our characters and drive the narrative of our own lives.

This is the task the awaits both Sky and Tara, my characters in A Gift for My Sister. Sky struggles with a horrible fate, and Tara benefits from the smiles of providence. We watch Sky deal with the questions: Why me? How can I go on after this tragedy? What is the point of life? Throughout the novel, she has Tara, the currently lucky sister, help her figure out her journey.

Because, ultimately we write the tale of our own lives. The lucky break can result in conceit and greed or gratitude and generosity. The lost job, the heartbreaking death, the terrible illness can structure a story of victimization, and failure, or a tale of the strong hero who overcomes all odds to persevere to thrive once again, to make lemonade out of lemons in a unique manner. Not to diminish the pain, the agony, and the horror of what we often endure, but to honor it and return to the joy of life.
For the tales of heroes are really just metaphors, roadmaps for us. For the greatest novel is the story each of us tells ourselves of our own lives.

 

This article first appeared as a guest post on Sarah Butland’s Blog. Thank you, Sarah for inviting me as a guest!

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